When I was early in my home education years, I came upon a book by Karen Andreola called "A Charlotte Mason Companion" where she shared her "reflections on the gentle art of learning." These were Karen words and ideas of how to implement the principles of learning that English educator Charlotte Mason had written about. This book saved our homeschool. As I began to read living books to my children, use narration, nature study, exposed them to great art and music, my children began to learn and to thrive!
A few years ago Karen and Dean Andreola moved their family to our area. I got to know her one day in an 2 hour phone call, when she called to ask about membership in our co-op and we ended up talking and sharing our hearts about home education.
Last year, we ended up at the same church and a friendship was born. In talking with her she would mention on occassion that she was working on a new book. That book turned out to be "Lessons at Blackberry Inn - Adventures With The Gentle Art of Learning."
This is a sweet book. Karen weaves Charlotte Mason's principles into the story line as the main character Carol educates her children at home in the midst of the depression and while helping to run an Inn. However, this is not just a book about education, there is a fine story line that tells in a gentle way a family's life. When we first meet Carol in this book, she is on bed rest,due to a fall, early in a pregnancy. We find out that she has had several miscarriages, and they are being careful and cautious. The family has moved back to Carol's hometown, from a nearby city, after her mother's dear friend offers them the opportunity to help run the Inn.
I found myself thinking about the story and the characters when I was doing other things and thinking about how certain things were going to resolve. That to me is the mark of an engaging book! And while this is a "gentle" book - meaning no harsh language or violence etc...the characters do not live in a "bubble" world of perfection. They face many challenges and difficulties.
I read a reader review on Amazon.com and the reader compared it to the Mitford Series. I would agree with that from the aspect of the characters become people you like and care about.
Karen also weaves in thought provoking quotes, and Christian principles. I really enjoyed this book - the second book I have read during this summer break!